Friday, February 5, 2010

Shelf gleaning - Fried shallots

These golden, crunchy beauties are fantastic for adding texture and deep-fried naughtiness to food.  Traditionally they are used to top various dishes in many Asian cuisines, for both visual appeal and a contrasting crunch.  I like to use them to top laksa and other noodle soups, but they are just as good tossed through salads or even added to the mince when making burgers, to give a subtle onion flavour.  They are great when you have something really simple, like pumpkin soup or steamed vegies, and you want to add a bit of pizazz.

Ideally, you would make these yourself, slicing the shallots and deep-frying.  I just buy them ready-fried, although some brands (or batches?) have a slightly bitter taste, as if the oil was old.  Try different brands and see which you like.  If you get a bad batch, you will be, like, less than $1.50 down, so be adventurous!

Here they are topping my fried rice.  The texture of fried rice (well, my recipe at least!) is similar throughout, with tender rice, egg and vegies, but the shallots add an interesting crunchy dimension.  That Jess Ho makes a great point about fried rice:
What I have never understood is how people have recipes for fried rice. It is just the Asian version of using up leftovers.
It’s like bubble and squeak,
a fritatta,
a toasted sandwich.
That said, if you want my very loose recipe, it's after the jump.

Take some leftover rice (if you decide to make rice especially, ideally cook it the night before, then spread on a tray and let it sit in the fridge overnight).  Take a few eggs, beat them lightly and make a simple omelette.  Slice into shreds.  Take whatever vegies you have on hand and cut into the same size dice (around 1 cm cubes) - I always have frozen peas and corn on standby for this purpose.  You should have a small bowl of vegies to a big bowl of cooked rice.

If you want to add meat, I recommend using lap cheong (Chinese sausage), but you can use bacon.  If using lap cheong, steam for 10 mins and slice on the diagonal.  Crush some garlic.  Heat some oil in a wok and add the garlic, then throw in the sausage or bacon immediately.  Cook for 30 secs, add diced vegies.  If using anything frozen, add it 60 secs later.  Keep stir-frying for a few minutes.  Add cooked egg.  Add cooked rice and toss, breaking it up.  Season with light soy, dark soy and optional oyster sauce - keep adding, stirring and tasting until you are happy with your seasoning (I probably use equal parts of each sauce).  A tip - pour the sauce around the edges of the wok, not on top of the food in it.  By the time it trickles down the hot sides to the base, it will have heated up, and won't make the temperature in the wok drop too much.

If you have some, stir in some finely chopped coriander or sliced spring onion.  Pile on a platter and top with fried shallots.  A very kid-friendly meal - the vegies are too small to pick out - although one of my daughters tries valiantly every time!!

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